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Roswell of the East? UFO Festival Draws In Believers, Skeptics

Todd Bookman/NHPR

The Exeter UFO Festival is again drawing in experts in extraterrestrial sightings, abductions, as well those just curious about what may be out there.

This weekend marks the 8th edition of the Festival, which features two days of speakers, along with vendors and UFO tours.

In 1965, two Exeter policemen, along with others, had a famous encounter with a red orb just across the town’s border in Kensington. After that sighting drew national attention, Exeter became known as the ‘Roswell of the East,’ at least in certain circles.

“Look everyone needs to be skeptical,” says Richard Dolan, who, along with delivering a lecture at the Festival, is also serving as MC. “Not in the sense in feeling the need to debunk every single thing. But in terms of wanting to know what is the evidence. We all need to do that.”

A relative of Barney and Betty Hill, Kathleen Marden, delivered a talk on Saturday about New Hampshire’s most famous abduction incident. In 1961, they claimed to have been abducted outside of Lancaster, New Hampshire, on their way back from Niagara Falls. The event is often cited as the first widely publicized abduction. It was adapted into a bestselling book.

Credit Todd Bookman/NHPR
Attendees of the Exeter UFO Festival enjoying a lecture.

The Exeter UFO Festival is organized in part by the local Kiwanis Club, which collects a suggested donation, along with offering plenty of food and drink options. (Mothership donuts are $1.)

“If you are a believer, come on in. We’ve got the best speakers in business,” says Kiwanis member Bill Smith. “If you are on the fence, come on in and listen. If you are adamant that you are not a believer, then please buy a hot dog or a hamburger cause the money is going to local children's charities.”

The event at Exeter Town Hall runs until Sunday at 4pm.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.
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